I feel a personal connection to this year’s two anniversaries of the Heisman trophy–the award presented to the season’s best collegiate football player. Fifty years ago, I was a young, first-year, professor at the U. S. Naval Academy. One of my students was a midshipman named Roger Staubach, the recipient of the 1963 Heisman for his heroics as Navy’s quarterback. Twenty-five years ago, a fellow wearing America’s brightest orange of my alma mater, Oklahoma State University, became the most prolific and exciting running back in the history of football. His name is Barry Sanders. What did the two have in common, besides their excellence on the field and this year celebrating–respectively–their gold and silver anniversaries? Both are classy, humble individuals who let their accomplishments speak for them.
Last night, we watched a young man of a different sort make his acceptance speech. Jameis Winston had, until recently, lived under the cloud of having been accused of rape. After stalling for months, the authorities announced a few days ago that they did not have sufficient evidence to indict him. However, the alleged victim’s family has announced that it will continue to press for a different resolution; Winston’s problems have not ended. I’ve watched the Heisman presentations for many years. Each time, I’ve seen the winner shake the hands of the competitors over whom he has been chosen and praise them in his acceptance speech. Not Winston. Perhaps as a product of his generation, he was only about “me, me, me.” A far cry from role models such as Roger Staubach and Barry Sanders.
So, if I’d had a vote for the 2013 Heisman, for whom would I have voted? In first place, Andre Williams; in second place, Keenan Reynolds.